A few weeks ago, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation, in conjunction with mtvU, hosted the 36th annual College Television Awards in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1978 to recognize excellence in student work, the ceremony has grown over the years to encompass sixteen categories and award 65 trophies to exemplary individuals with an eye on creativity.

Purposely designed to emulate the Primetime Emmys, the contestants are reviewed by active Television Academy members, submitting their work through an online platform provided by mtvU, and passing through a multi-tiered judging system before the ceremony.

For the entrepreneur, perhaps keeping a close eye on a ceremony of this nature may seem out of the ordinary. Granted, by recognizing the winners, one can instantly ID individuals who show promise in their varying fields, which may be conducive to future hires or partnership. However, the structure of the College Television Awards goes far beyond just focusing on talented individuals in the midst of their victory lap. For the savvy businessperson, the very structure of the program allows keen insight into what it takes for success.

The review process the young filmmakers undergo is not dissimilar to the type of review one must submit to when structuring a business plan or long-term goal. A peer and expert assessment that goes over every aspect of the project to note its strengths and weaknesses helps prepare the contestant for criticism, prepares them for success, and also educates them on how to strengthen their skills in the future. An award should not simply be about who did the best, although that is one aspect of such a prize, but it must also tip its hat to those who show the most potential of achieving far more.

Furthermore, as noted in prior articles, the entrepreneurial world could stand to take cues from creators for new and innovative ways to drive a product forward. Those honored at the College Television Awards are exemplary artists who took risks that paid off in a big way. While such contenders as MISS MUSTARD GLADE (winner for Best Series - Scripted) or Martian American (winner for Best Comedy) may seem like titles that are worlds away from the pages of Forbes, their innovative streak caused professionals to take note and honor them accordingly. Business and creative strategy, when all is said and done, are not dissimilar. Both are about attracting the attention of the outside and drawing their interest. Without even realizing it, the recipients of this year's College Television Awards are showing a market savvy beyond the screen. Their work has reached an audience that has reacted in the best possible way. This, above all, is the hope of anyone creating a product in the consumable world.

As with most award shows, there are a few trophies handed out at the College Television Awards, but the biggest prize of the night is cold, hard cash. Rather than give nominees a bauble to take home for their shelves, the Awards present winners with monetary prizes so that they may continue their work. In a way, this is the entertainment industry betting on a winning horse. Identify the talent, and then support said talent to create brighter, bigger things. A concept that can as much be applied to a board room as it can a film set.

In summation, the mtvU College Television Awards are not just about honoring young talent, but also about recognizing the creative savvy they bring to the table and learning from it ourselves. By supporting and lauding their potential, we can also strengthen our own awareness of how things can be done. By rewarding those who achieve great things, we are in turn rewarding ourselves with a market that has stronger, broader, and more innovative ideas. Awards of this nature are not simply about a pat on the back for a job well done, they are a way of recognizing we can all be better and bring something more to the work we do. By focusing on this particular ceremony as a model, we can all take a cue from the college aspect...and learn.